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A good life

Comment

The sudden and hugely unexpected loss of NCE editor emeritus Mike Winney this week forms a sharp contrast to the celebrations of the Consultants Awards last Friday.

But then again shouting about this profession and its achievements and making as many people as possible aware of the excitement of engineering was what Mike was all about.

As he so often explained, good engineering was vital to society, under-pinned our lives and was something that really had to be protected and encouraged.

'In my view the big challenge for the ICE - for every civil engineer - is to enthuse the next generation about the possibilities of a profession that is a vital part of all the industrial, commercial, political and conservation activities that shape the environment in which we live, ' he wrote when seeking election to ICE Council in 1999.

It was a guiding mission that he stuck to throughout his career as a journalist with NCE and most recently during his year as president of the French Civils in 2005.

I cannot of course help but re ect on the fact that it was Mike that rst employed me as a journalist. And right from the very first interview I was very aware of his enthusiasm for all things engineering.

As I remember, we spent several hours discussing roads, bridges, public transport and, particularly, old cars. It was in many ways this enthusiasm that convinced and drove me to move from engineering into journalism.

And early when the 'Oh no.

I've ditched a career in engineering - what have I done?' thoughts descended it was Mike's simple, quiet yet enthusiasm that so often got me back on track. A reminder that we were doing a fun job in a fantastic industry.

I try to keep that thought in mind. Just like Mike, I am committed to ensuring that good design, well run businesses, successful people and effective teams are highlighted, rewarded and shouted about.

And as I reminded guests at the Consultants Awards last week, times are very good in the business right now and we are at the centre of some of the most exciting projects perhaps ever seen. As Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke points out in this week's Consultants File: 'Engineering really is beginning to enjoy itself.'

They are the kind of wonderful projects that I wish Mike was still around to enjoy. Constructing the East London Line, widening the M25 motorway network, the preparation for London 2012, CTRL completion, repairs to the Severn and Forth Road bridges, the countless tall and technically challenging buildings planned across the UK. And further afield the Burj Dubai, China and the massive Incheon toll bridge in Korea.

All of these would have really excited him. All would have red his passion for the engineering, for the design and the construction and for the teams involved and would have driven him as a journalist to tell the stories and share the pictures.

All would have provided him with outstanding material to inspire engineers of the present and future.

Mike's sudden death really did come too early. He was a friend and a source of great knowledge and we have all lost out by his early departure.

But if we continue to celebrate and enthuse about the great engineering being used and created all around us, his legacy as a journalist, an engineer and communicator will surely live on.

Antony Oliver is NCE's Editor

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